The Washington Post

U.S. stocks close lower, ending Dow’s 10-day rally

U.S. stock markets fell Friday, ending the longest winning streak for the Dow Jones industrial average in nearly 17 years.

The Dow dropped 25.03 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,514.11 The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 2.5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,560.70, just shy of an all-time high from October 2007. The Nasdaq composite index dropped nine points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,249.07.

The Dow notched a 10-day winning streak through Thursday, its longest since November 1996. The string of wins pushed the blue-chip index up 484 points, or 3.4 percent, to a Thursday close of 14,539.14. The index’s closing price Feb. 28, just before the rally began, was 14,054.49.

Trading on Friday was tentative because investors feared that rising inflation could cause the Federal Reserve to retreat from policies aimed at boosting markets. The government said consumer prices increased in February at the fastest pace in more than three years.

The increase was driven by a spike in gas prices; the core index, which excludes the volatile energy and food categories, increased more modestly. But both figures rose 2 percent compared with a year earlier, enough to get investors’ attention, said Peter Tchir, who runs the hedge fund TF Market Advisors.

“It’s real and it’s a drag, and I think people are growing concerned that it can get out of control quickly,” Tchir said. He said signs of economic improvement and inflation “make them wonder if there will be continued market pressure on the Fed” to end its bond-buying programs.

The Dow’s win streak matched a 10-day run that ended Nov. 15, 1996. To find a longer uninterrupted series of gains, observers would have to go back to Jan. 3, 1992, when the Dow rose for 11 consecutive days. The index’s longest winning streak was 14 days, ending June 14, 1897.

Traders are processing big banks’ scores on “stress tests” administered by the Fed. The Fed said late Thursday that JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs both need better plans to cope with a severe recession. It gave them until September to revise their plans.The stock of JPMorgan fell 98 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $50.02. Goldman’s stock rose 82 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $154.84.

Among the other companies making big moves:

●Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. plunged after saying its fiscal fourth-quarter net income dropped sharply and fell short of expectations. The stock fell 41 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $14.54.

●Teen apparel chain Aeropostale fell 76 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $13.75, after posting a loss in its fiscal fourth quarter and saying it expects another one in the current quarter.

— Associated Press



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